Roma housing crisis: Advocacy groups call on European Committee of Social Rights to take action on human rights violations December 4, 2003

04 December 2003

Roma housing crisis: Advocacy groups call on European Committee of Social Rights to take action on human rights violations December 4, 2003

The European Committee of Social Rights has been alerted to the housing crisis faced by the Roma people in six countries and called upon to help combat the situation. The European Roma Rights Center (ERRC) and the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) made joint submissions to the committee this week, aimed at ensuring that Roma are protected from housing rights violations in Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Romania and Turkey.

Many European countries have failed to adopt laws or take concerted action to combat discrimination and racial segregation in the field of housing and in recent years have also weakened provisions protecting the rights of tenants. "These trends and an outbreak of anti-Romani sentiment in Europe has severely impacted the Roma peoples' access to adequate housing", said Dimitrina Petrova, Executive Director of the ERRC.

Forced evictions of Roma are reported with disturbing frequency. "In many cases, Roma were simply evicted without notice or their homes were demolished and rarely were the victims provided with an adequate alternative place to stay", said Scott Leckie, Executive Director of COHRE. In Bulgaria for example, 115 Romani residents were forcibly evicted, their homes destroyed by municipal authorities and the evictees were reportedly relocated to a single room metal barrack lacking both
electricity and running water.

The submissions by ERRC and COHRE highlight issues such as the inadequate legal and anti-discrimination regimes, explicitly discriminatory rules on housing based on racial and ethnic segregation, forced evictions of Roma and their inability to access social housing and discrimination of them in related social protection fields.

ERRC and COHRE have made a number of recommendations to the European Committee of Social Rights aimed at protecting the housing rights of Roma, based on fieldwork and research conducted with partners in recent years. "Since many Roma in the these countries live without a basic water supply, sanitation and electricity, urgent steps are needed by governments to rectify these ongoing housing rights violations," said Claude Cahn, Programmes Director of the ERRC.

The submissions come at a time when the European Committee of Social Rights is reviewing the compliance of signatories with the right of the family to social, legal and economic protection under Article 16 of the European Social Charter and revised European Social Charter.

The full texts of the submissions are available at: ERRC: Advocacy Submissions.

Contact details:
ERRC: Dimitrina Petrova, Executive Director, Mobile: ++ 36 20 977 63 81
Claude Cahn, ++ 36 20 98 36 445
Tara Bedard, ++ 361 41 32 200

COHRE: Scott Leckie, Executive Director, COHRE: Mobile: +41 79 242 8033

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